Check our interview with talented actress/singer Jayna Sweet who leads the ensemble cast in the teen soap drama “Turnt” on Facebook Watch. Created by Rachel Stern, Jayna took on the challenging role of “Natalie”, an awkward loner sophomore high schooler who doesn’t quite know who she is yet. This memorable character will take the audience on a serious journey throughout the season. She’s incredibly smart and has the cunning to manipulate anyone if she so chooses. She’s observant and has a big heart, even if it’s a bit misguided. She doesn’t give herself enough credit for the amazing person she is and could be.
Making a name for herself in Hollywood through her acting and music, Jayna Sweet is quickly becoming one of her generation’s most influential rising stars.
Outside of entertainment, Jayna’s committed to philanthropic work, supporting the Human Rights Campaign, ASPCA, and World Wildlife Fund.
Hi Jayna, please tell us a little about yourself?
My dream job as a little kid was to be a spy, and dogs are my best friends. I consider myself a “serial soul searcher,” who drinks too much coffee, and love going on rollercoasters.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, empathetic, anxious.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My best friend, Ally, has been the biggest supporter in my life. She’s never once doubted me and has walked with me through every major event. I’m also so lucky to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive family I couldn’t live without.
How did you get started in the industry?
When I was really little, my dad and I would play theatre games anywhere and everywhere. It was the way he taught me how to speak and about emotions and empathy. When I was about three and we were playing our usual games, he told me he thought I could really be an actress. It struck a chord in my young heart and I’ve pursued it ever since. I grew up in dance classes, performing in community theatre, and competing in show choirs. My first professional job was in the Disney Channel original movie Lemonade Mouth when I was fifteen.
What was your first acting role?
I played a cat, “Kitty,” in an original musical called Olivia. I was five years old and had one line: “Meow.” It was the best.
What is the best (and worst) part of being an actress?
It doesn’t get much better than creating characters. I love bringing a person to life and giving voice to others’ (and my own) experiences. It feels like the ultimate form of expression to me. Plus, playing dress up is pretty darn fun, too!
The worst part is the “feast and famine” nature of the business. You can be working consistently for months (or years) on end, and then all of a sudden it stops for a while. There’s no real in-between. Sticking it out through the famine times can get really tough, for sure, but I’ve always found it to be worth it.
Best advice ever given?
When I was younger and dealing with being bullied in school, my dad once told me, “Sometimes when someone’s candle burns so bright, others are going to try to blow it out. Don’t let them blow your light out. Shine brighter.” It was such an encouraging piece of advice from him, and I hold that concept near-and-dear to this day.
Tell us about the teen soap drama “Turnt” on Facebook Watch?
“Turnt” follows a group of high school classmates who are navigating adolescence and coming-of-age. It’s full of drama and fun twists and turns, and talks about a lot of really important, relevant issues.
And tell us about your role as Natalie?
Natalie is the girl who just wants to fit in and will stop at almost nothing to reach that goal. She’s really smart and funny, but also really lonely and insecure. She goes on a big journey of self-discovery as she changes just about everything about herself in order to fit her ideas of perfection. She gets herself into some trouble as she gives in to her anxiety and obsession with being perfect.
What has been your most memorable experience about this project?
It’s all been pretty memorable, to be honest. It was a bit of a whirlwind at the beginning and while we were filming, and it’s cool to be a part of such a new streaming platform. I will never forget waking up at 4 A.M. and driving to set as the sun was rising; those were some of my favorite moments where I just felt like pinching myself.
What other projects have you have been part of?
My first professional role was in the Disney Channel original movie “Lemonade Mouth.” Other roles include VH1’s “Stevie TV,” starred in the web series adaptation of the novel “Salvaged,” and in an award-winning independent pilot called “No Place To Fall.” Last year, my dad and I co-produced and co-starred in a short film, “Daughter,” which was really fun.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
I love Charlize Theron. She’s the kind of actress I long to be – completely fearless and willing to do whatever she needs to for the story. The way I see it, she really steps outside of herself and makes the character the priority in the moment. Her performances are always amazing. I’m also a huge fan of Shailene Woodley. I think she’s underrated. She’s always so incredibly real and natural. She’s another one that just goes for it, unafraid. She’s inspiring to watch.
3 things you can’t leave your house without?
Lip balm, coffee, and lotion.
What music do you like?
I have a fairly eclectic music taste but tend to gravitate mostly toward alt-pop/rock. I love Foster the People, Mat Kearney, Zella Day, Lennon Stella, Alice Merton, Gungor, and Grouplove.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Overcast or rainy, a ton of candles lit, French press coffee, a good book, and some time spent writing or painting.
When filming Turnt, what was a normal day like?
I usually had an early morning call. I’d get to set, eat breakfast, and then go through hair and makeup. We had so much material to shoot and were typically pretty quick and efficient, but whenever we had downtime, my castmates and I would play board games or do yoga. It felt like summer camp every day.
What is your favorite healthy food?
It’d be easier for me to say my least favorite healthy food – bananas. I really, really love all veggies, though.
And your favorite cheat food?
Salt and vinegar chips!
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d honestly like to meet my dad’s father. He died years before I was born, and I’d love to know first-hand what he was like.
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
Likely with a bunch of dogs and a backyard with a pool. I hope I’m acting in some really cool projects and writing books!
Do you support any charities?
I’ve given to ASPCA, WWF, and the Human Rights Campaign for years now. I’ve done some philanthropic work, but long to do more.
Where we can follow you?
@jayna_sweet on Instagram
Favorite Music: Foster the People is my favorite band.
Quote: “The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place.” – Pablo Picasso
Holiday Destination: I just went to Washington state for the first time this summer and it was my favorite place ever.
Food: I could eat hummus, falafel, and popcorn all day every day and never get sick of any of it.
Restaurant: I’m obsessed with Café Gratitude.
Beverage: Iced hazelnut soy latte.
Celebrity Crush: I have a total girl crush/talent crush on Liana Liberato.
Song: “White Man” by the Michael Gungor Band.
Sports Team: I don’t follow any sports at all, but my family would like it if I said the Arizona Cardinals, so I’ll say that!
Movie: Thelma & Louise and She’s the Man are my top two favorites.
Photo 1 and Cover: Session Nine Photographer
Photo 2: Jeremy David